Please enjoy this guest post by our youngest granddaughter, Sydney.
Imagine for a moment that you are in the middle east thousands and thousands of years ago. You are making a voyage, not by sea but by land, with many other people just like you. Some of them are your family, some are your friends, and some you only have loose connections with, but there are hundreds of you, enough to form a small nation. And this nation is stuck in the wilderness.
There is no food, there is no water. The sun is hot and dry; it beats down on you from dawn till dusk, scorching your skin. Your lips are cracked, your tongue feels like paper, and your hair is matted with sand and sweat. For days you have been walking a slow, monotonous pace. For days the only view has been dry, crumbling, dusty, brown earth to the north and to the south and to the east and to the west.
Now let me give you some backstory. A few weeks ago you were a slave in ancient Egypt. Your job was to collect straws and fashion them into bricks. You spent most of the day hunched over in the dirt doing backbreaking, mind numbing work. The natives hated you. They would whip you and beat you for no reason. Then a strange man came along. He said that there was a God, one you have only heard about from stories, who was going to set you free. He was going to send you to a land flowing with milk and honey, a perfect paradise. After ten terrible plagues, this God made good on His promise. Pharaoh released you and all of your people. But you did not end up in the paradise God promised, but in the desert. There is no honey, there is no milk, there isn’t even water. You begin to wonder, Wouldn’t it have been better if I just stayed in Egypt? Where is this God who set me free? Why isn’t he doing anything to relieve me from this trial? If He’s really who He said he is, why couldn’t he have just found us a shortcut through the desert?
If you haven’t realized it by now, the scenario I just asked you to imagine was the plight of the Israelites after God delivered them out of Egypt. Now, I used to look down on these people. It seemed to me that while they were in the wilderness, they did nothing but complain against a God who provided for them time and time again. He was faithful to them, but they were faithless. I didn’t understand why it was so hard for them to trust in His word that He would bring them to the Promised Land.
However, in the midst of COVID-19, I reread their story. I realized that the people of Israel weren’t so different from me. We both were stuck in strange and difficult circumstances, to which there seemed no end. We both had ideas of what our future would look like, and we both suffered many disappointments. We both had trouble believing in God’s promises of future blessings. But perhaps the most important similarity of all was that in both the Israelite’s struggle and my own God was walking with us.
I am powerless to do anything about the current pandemic; the Israelites were powerless to do anything about their struggles in the desert. But God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and He was not caught off guard or surprised by the Coronavirus just as He was not surprised when Pharaoh decided to keep His people as slaves. In fact, years before the subjugation of Israel, He foretold the event to Abraham. “Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years,” (Genesis 15:13). However, He also foretold His rescue of the Israelites and the land that He would give them. “But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions… And they shall come back here in the fourth generation,” (Genesis 15:14,16). God knew exactly what would happen to the Israelites, and He knew even then, even in the days of Abraham in ancient times that there would come a year called 2020, and it would bring a huge pandemic. He also knows when it will end, and He knows exactly how He’s going to provide for His people in the midst of it. If He could rain down bread from heaven for Israel, He can put food on the table of all the people who are currently out of a job. If He could protect the Israelite’s clothing from wearing out, He can provide masks and protection for all of the doctors and nurses and first responders who need them. If He could sustain a nation with water from rocks, He can sustain us.
This doesn’t mean that everything will go back to normal immediately, that we will wake up tomorrow without COVID-19. Israel had to wait for their liberation, and they had to wait for the Promised Land. But eventually, God did set them free, He did bring them to the land he showed Abraham all those years ago. He kept His promises, and He will keep His promises to us.
The Wilderness was written by Sydney the youngest granddaughter of Pam Ecrement and a rising senior in High School. Besides writing her hobbies include drawing, singing, acting, karate, all things French, playing the violin, and reading. Her favorite genre of literature is fiction, specifically fantasy, and her favorite books are those of The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. Though she does not aspire to be a writer as a career, she is currently working on writing her first novel just for fun.